Smoky, unhealthy air shuts local gardens, L.A. museum’s Butterfly Pavilion

The Los Angeles skyline is shrouded in smoke from the Bobcat fire, as seen from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Smoke from Southern California wildfires has shut popular local gardens and parks, some for the entire weekend. The L.A. County Arboretum, the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Descanso Gardens and the Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County closed Friday, citing smoke and the hazardous air quality.

The Arboretum has remained open during the coronavirus outbreak as a place of refuge for people who want to escape their homes. But it was no match for the smoke and ash from the Bobcat fire that pushed air quality near the Arcadia site into the “very unhealthy” range, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District map.

The Arboretum closed at noon Friday, noting that anyone with tickets can use them on another day. Because of the pandemic, the site requires visitors to purchase tickets in advance online. It’s unclear whether the Arboretum will reopen Saturday.

Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge also shut Friday; visitors may rebook tickets or receive a refund by calling (818) 949-4200.

The smoke advisory for much of the region is likely to remain in effect through the weekend, the South Coast Air Quality Management District says.


Descanso and the Arboretum will monitor the air quality to determine whether to open Saturday and Sunday.

Amid California’s wildfires, eight L.A. County parks remained closed as of Monday, but some state parks have reopened.

Huntington Gardens in San Marino, which also requires advance ticket purchases, closed Friday and will remain shut through Sunday. Ticket holders may email to rebook their visit.

The California Botanic Garden in Claremont, however, remained open Friday but said on its website that it was keeping an eye on the air quality index and could close at any time if conditions got worse.

The Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles will remain closed through Sunday. Ticket holders can reschedule their visits by calling (213) 763-3466 or emailing

Smoke and extreme fire conditions also factored into the weekend closures of eight L.A. County parks. On Monday, eight national forests, including all those in Southern California, closed because of high-risk fire danger. On Wednesday, all state forests were closed, along with many state parks and parts of Highway 1.

The AQMD’s website on Friday pointed to the Bobcat and El Dorado fires as the source of “substantial amounts of smoke.” It also blamed the Bobcat fire for raining ash throughout the basin, noting communities from Pasadena to Rancho Cucamonga would see the “highest particulate matter levels” Friday night through Saturday morning because smoke likely will stick close to the ground overnight.

Also, smoke from wildfires in Northern and Central California was also contributing to poor air quality in the “upper levels of the atmosphere [Friday] morning.”